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Apple Acquired a ML Startup To Focus On AR

Apple has recently acquired Spektral, a Danish-based machine learning (ML) startup that operates in real-time green screen technology, for over $30 million. Actually, the deal happened nearly a year ago, but it was announced today, as per the Danish newspaper Borsen. Apple has been focusing more and more on developing augmented reality (AR) in its products, and this procurement is intended to boost the iPhone’s AR features for FaceTime or Memoji or to integrate AR in its headsets, which is expected to roll out in 2020, as reported by Bloomberg.

Ming-Chi Ku, an analyst in Apple, has predicted that this technology will be the next revolutionary development for the company. “We predict that AR is the next-generation revolutionary UI and it does not require any other killer application given it is a killer application now,” Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a research document.

Spektral, which was formerly known as CloudCutout, was founded in 2014 and uses ML, computer vision techniques to cut people and objects from video backgrounds in real time on smartphones. “Integrating deep neural networks and spectral graph theory with the processing power of modern GPUs, our tool can process images and video from the camera in real-time directly on the device,” the company clarified.

The news of this procurement is the latest in a number of AR-based developments coming from the company. It’s certainly not the first AR-based startup Apple has acquired, as the company has previously purchased a number of computer vision companies. For instance, in 2017, Apple bought the German eye-tracking tech company called SensoMotoric Instruments. Earlier this year, Apple purchased Akonia, a startup engaged in creating AR lenses, giving an idea that it might soon release its long-awaited AR glasses. The tech giant usually doesn’t reveal its plans with the startups or companies it procures, but it’s evident that Apple sees the potential of emerging AR technologies.

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